Q and A with Wind Creek Exec Before U.S. Senior Open Golf

Q and A with Wind Creek Exec Before U.S. Senior Open Golf
By Lou Monaco
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The 42nd edition of golf’s U.S. Senior Open starts Thursday for Pennsylvania bettors at Saucon Valley Country Club (Old Course) in Bethlehem.

BetMGM Sportsbook PAreleased U.S. Senior Open Championship tournament winner odds on Wednesday morning and Steven Alker (+450) is the current favorite to take home the title

In 20 career starts on the Senior Tour, Alker has an amazing 17 Top 10 finishes, including eight this year. He has four career wins, highlighted by three this season, including the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

The top five favorites you will find on the BetMGM sports betting app are:

  • Steven Aiker (+450)
  • 2019 champion Steve Stricker (+700)
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez (+1000)
  • Padraig Harrington (+1200, 8.3% tickets, 22.3% handle)
  • Jerry Kelly (+1400, 5.6% tickets, 11% handle).

Defending champion, Pennsylvanian Jim Furyk, is at +3300.

You can find the best Pennsylvania sports betting promo codes constantly updated at PennStakes.com.

New Free Mobile Game for Fans

The tournament will take on a new look and feel for fans as Wind Creek is partnered with Lehigh Valley Hospital, Yuengling  and Martin guitar to create a new mobile, free-to-play game at their new 19th Hole Experience. Each of the partners will have their own experiences within the 19th Hole area.

The new experience (requires special ticket) will include:

  • Lehigh Valley Health Network, the 19th hole presenting sponsor, with swag and promotions
  • X-Golf simulator for fans to play “Beat the Pro,” including longest drive on No. 16 and closest to the pin on No. 17
  • A 9,000-square-foot putting green
  • Wind Creek Casino (There are real money online casinos in Pennsylvania) players’ lounge with an on-site sportsbook and social gaming app in which fans can bet for points instead of money. Accumulated points can be redeemed for beer, Wind Creek hotel stays and a trip to Aruba
  • Yuengling Sports Bar with food trucks plus a general concessions area, restrooms, picnic tables, bean bag chairs, giant Jenga, beer pong with tennis balls, cornhole, Battle Chip and Bean Bag Bucketz
  • Multiple 20-foot-wide screens showing live broadcasts.

Q and A with Wind Creek CMO Ken Rohman

On the eve of the tournament, we talked with Ken Rohman, Chief Marketing Officer at Wind Creek Hospitalityabout the new tournament mobile app and why he thinks this could be a game-changer for other events moving forward.

Rohman joined Wind Creek Hospitality in 2019 as Chief Marketing Officer. Before joining Wind Creek, he spent more than 25 years in marketing, working at Bass Pro Shops, Bombardier and Sea Ray Boats, along with more than 10 years working at advertising agencies on scores of consumer brands, including FedEx, RJR Tobacco, Delaware North and more.

Ken holds an MBA from Tulane University in New Orleans and a Bachelors degree from Baylor University. He resides in Gulf Shores, Ala., where he spends his leisure time playing golf with his wife.

The Q and A has been edited for brevity and clarity.

PennStakes.com: How did this new mobile app come about and what was the thought process behind it?

Rohman: The USGA approached Wind Creek about a sponsorship over a year ago as Wind Creek maintains a core principle of building and investing in the communities where our guests and team members live and work, so supporting the USGA and the Senior U.S. Open in our local community was an easy decision.

Wind Creek also believes strongly in providing an always free-to-play social game experience, so our guests can stay connected with Wind Creek when they aren't visiting one of our locations in North America or the Caribbean. While our games are always free to play, the rewards we provide players in exchange for their time of engagement are always real and meant to enhance a future visit, including Free Play, Dining, Hotel, Spa, Retail, or other similar items that can be used at any Wind Creek property.

So, in our initial discussions with the USGA, we asked if we could develop some sort of social game engagement that would be free to play, offer real rewards, and enhance the guest experience. Mimi Griffin (a Saucon Valley CC member and MSG Promotions CEO/President) was excited about the concept, and after securing the needed approvals, she told us to begin exploring.

Our guiding principals were that it had to be fun, it had to add to the guest experience at the tournament, it couldn't take away from the main event, and it provided value to the guests playing, the U.S. Senior Open, and Wind Creek.

The concept we centered on was simple enough: guess how players would perform on a series of holes, award some points for getting it right, and letting folks get a reward for participating. We added some leaderboards to spur competitive​ juices and made it easy for folks to set and forget or pick in (near) real-time so they could both play the game and stay focused on the action on the course in front of them.

Knowing the mission of the USGA to grow the game, we also were sensitive that lots of families would be attending, so we engaged Fan Beat to run this game separately from our WindCreekCasino.com game platform to ensure that we didn't co-mingle data. It also allowed us to capitalize on their experience in the sports arenas to develop the game quickly and get to market in time for the Senior U.S. Open.

PennStakes.com: Do you have to be a Wind Creek Casino customer or can anyone  create an account for the event and play? Do you have to be at the new 19th Hole area to participate?

Rohman: ​Folks wanting to play do not have to be existing Wind Creek customers, but they do need to have a ticket to the 19th Hole experience to be able to claim rewards.

Guests of 19th Hole who want to play will need to create an account, but it’s ​quick and easy to do on a mobile phone, and Wind Creek has a team on the grounds at Saucon Valley this week to assist with both account creation and during game play.Once an account is up and running, guests can play from anywhere on the course.

PennStakes.com: Do you know of any tournament on any Tour that has started something like this for their event or is this the first of its kind?

Rohman: It's tough to imagine this is completely new ground, but it's not something our team has seen before, nor has Mimi’s team, and nor has the team from Fan Beat. It’s certainly new for the USGA at its events, and in discussions with other sports ​organizations, it wasn't something they’d seen before.

All that basically says is, we think it’s a unique offering that if not brand new, is certainly among the first wave of such an engagement.

PennStakes.com: What do you hope the new app will provide fans throughout the four days of the tournament and what do you hope to gain from it after the tournament ends on Sunday?

Rohman: ​We hope that our game helps fans stay more engaged in the tournament, feel like they were rewarded for staying plugged into both the tournament and our game, and recognizes that Wind Creek and the Senior U.S. Open team went above and beyond to bring this to the fans.

PennStakes.com: I had to ask, who is your pick for the week?

Rohman: ​As a fan, Miguel Angel Jimenez. He’s got two wins already this season, including at Hualalai (one of my favorite courses), but it's a tough field for sure. I’m just hoping it's a shootout all the way to the end like last week at Country Club in Brookline, Mass. 

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Contributors

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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